International Women’s Day celebration is still on at Sesi Technologies as we celebrate Women In Agriculture for the month of March. Last week we highlighted Lois Yennuman Yowsah a farmer and agrobusiness women, the week before that was Naa Shika Koshie an agroprocessor. This week we continue to commemorate International Women’s Day, featuring Linda Coffie, a seed scientist. Read on to learn more about her story.
SesiTech: Tell us who you are, what you do, how you got into agriculture and why? Is it something you have always wanted to do? Also which aspect of agriculture are you into?
Linda Coffie: My name is Linda Coffie, currently working with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research-Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (CSIR-SARI) as a seed scientist. As a seed scientist, my responsibility is to come up with technologies that enhance seed quality, for adoption by farmers.
As a researcher, I’ve always loved the idea of owning my own farm but I faced some challenges which made my quest to own a farm, a challenging one. These challenges are: lack of access to farmlands, limited time to tender a farm since a have a full time job, lack of a support community/organization that will make my journey of owning a farm easier. I spoke with some female friends and they confessed their love for going into agriculture and owning their own farms, but faced similar challenges like I faced. This is what led me to start the “Women’s Agricultural Development Fund”, to acquire farm lands and make them available to women, to engage the services of farm managers to ease the burden on career/business women, and to provide some support for women to own farms.
SesiTech: Considering you are the founder of a fund for women in agriculture, can you tell us how we can advance gender equality in agriculture
Linda Coffie: We can collectively advance gender equality in agriculture by fostering policies that enhance women’s access to farm lands, enhancing women’s access to financial support and services and implementing policies that favour women’s participation in commercial farming and sales of agricultural produce
SesiTech: This year’s International Women’s Day theme is innovation and technology for gender equality. How does that relate to you as a woman in agriculture? What are some of the challenges and what do you think should be done?
Currently, a lot of the work we do on our farms are done manually using the help of communal labour. This reduces precision, reduces the future use of certain machineries (harvester) increases cost and time taken to finish any task. As a woman in agriculture, easy access to innovative technologies that will enhance work on our farms will go a long way in increasing efficiency, precision and yield. My biggest challenge has been obtaining agricultural machineries that will enhance our work on the farms. Women should be supported by government agencies, financial institutions, etc. to acquire farm machineries to enhance their work efficiency
SesiTech: What is one crop you think women should invest in or farm and why?
Linda Coffie: Onion. There is still so little known about the benefits in cultivating onions. Presently, about 80% of onions in the Ghanaian market are imported. This means that there is a wide production gap that women can fill. Secondly, onions have a high market value; a bag of onion is currently selling between 1,000 cedis and 1,700 cedis. Lastly, commercial onion production means reduction of importation and this is good for our economy.
SesiTech: Finally, Does Ghana have hope in the agricultural landscape? What do you suggest we can do better?
Linda Coffie: I believe that Ghana has so much hope in the agricultural landscape. I say so because recently, there’s been a lot of awakening about the immense potentials in agriculture amongst the youth and many youth are now considering agriculture for a career. As a nation, we should implement policies that will be favourable for the youth to easily venture into agriculture. We should also make funds readily available and easily accessible to motivate more youth to go into agriculture. Lastly, a strong linkage between crop producers and end users of agricultural produce will be helpful to enhance marketing, reduce food wastage and give farmers value for their money.
We are grateful to Linda Coffie for the time spent to share her insights with us for our Women In Agriculture series. If you would like to work with Linda, here are her details: Email: email@example.com Phone: +233542897129 Find her on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn: @Women’s Agricultural Development Fund. Her Location is Tamale, Northern Region, Ghana